Bangkok shrine bombing trial resumes after long delays

The trial of two Uighurs accused of carrying out a deadly bomb attack in Bangkok in 2015 resumed Tuesday after years of delays due to coronavirus disruptions and problems securing translators.

Yusufu Mieraili and Bilal Mohammed allegedly planted a bomb in a Hindu shrine in Bangkok's commercial heart in August 2015 that left 20 dead, mostly Chinese tourists.

The blast came weeks after Thailand's junta forcibly repatriated 109 Uighurs to China, where rights activists say the Muslim minority faces cultural and religious repression.

The timing prompted speculation that the attack was part of a revenge plot against a country that had been a key transit hub for Uighurs as Thailand's then-military leaders grew closer to Beijing.

The trial for the two men has been delayed several times as the court struggled to find a suitable translator -- but a hearing resumed Tuesday in Bangkok.

Defence lawyer Schoochart Kanpai told reporters that officers from the police forensic department who inspected the crime scene at Erawan Shrine and an apartment where the two accused lived were due to give evidence Tuesday.

Uighurs, a Turkic minority, hail from China's westernmost province, Xinjiang.

China has been accused of grave human rights abuses in Xinjiang against the Uighurs dating back to at least the 1990s, with the United States branding Beijing's treatment of the mostly Muslim minority a "genocide".

A damning UN report released in August detailed violations including torture and forced labour and "large-scale" arbitrary detention in what Beijing calls vocational training centres.

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